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How to Avoid Re-Homing Your Cat

How to Avoid Re-Homing Your Cat

There are many reasons why you may need to re-home your cat. It's a drastic decision and one that should never be made on the spur of the moment. Often there are ways to work around re-homing and it's up to every responsible cat parent to attempt to resolve any situation before having to make this final and permanent choice.

Here are the main reasons cats are re-homed.

Behavioral Issues

Behavioral issues and, in particular, litter box avoidance, is the primary reason that cats lose their homes and end up in shelters. Cats are very clean creatures and often the reason they avoid the litter box is because it's not being scooped on a daily basis. Also, in multi-cat households, there may be too few litter boxes to accommodate all the cats. The rule of thumb, according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, is one litter box per cat, plus one. Litter boxes should be scooped daily and cleaned with warm, soapy water on a weekly basis.

Cats often find themselves in a shelter for suddenly biting or scratching a family member, particularly young children. There may be reasons for such sudden acts of aggression. Children need to be taught to respect pets and similarly a cat needs to be trained to respect all members of the household. If a cat's tail is constantly being pulled, it will react to defend it itself. Further, they will react when they are punished or physically hurt. A cat behaviorist will be able to resolve such issues in a household.

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. In order to prevent them from scratching and destroying your furniture, place numerous cat scratchers in different parts of the home and train your cats to use them. Providing plenty of toys and regular playtime helps keep them occupied while also providing bonding time.

Babies and Cats

There is a common misperception that babies and cats can't co-exist in the household. This opinion is fueled by myths such as cats smother babies by sleeping on them and deliberately scratch them. But these are simply myths. Cats are curious creatures and behaviorists suggest if you allow them to sniff out a new baby's room prior to the baby's arrival, this makes them feel at ease and, as a result, they no longer have the need to “break and enter” into the baby's space.

Toxoplasmosis and Pregnant Women

One of the biggest concerns for pregnant women is contracting toxoplasmosis from cleaning cat feces in litter boxes. Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite found in cats that have eaten infected meat. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women who test positive for toxoplasmosis don't pass it on to the fetus because they have the necessary antibodies in their systems to fight the condition.

There's no reason to get rid of a cat because of a pregnancy. Instead, women should avoid direct contact with feline feces by getting someone else to clean the litter box. The alternative is to wear gloves and disinfect the box every time you change the litter.

Although cat toxoplasmosis is associated with feline feces, it is also very easy to pick up the parasite by eating raw or partly cooked meat, especially pork, lamb or venison, or by touching your hands to your mouth after contact with raw or undercooked meat in the kitchen. Consequently, cats are often blamed unnecessarily.


Moving to a new home or re-locating to a different city or state often prompts pet parents not to take their pets with them. Often the reason given is that cats will automatically return to their former homes. This is simply not true. While it is always a good idea to make your cat an indoor-only pet, sometimes that is not possible. If that is the case, be sure to keep your cat inside for a couple of weeks before you move and confine her to one room in the new home for a week or so before slowly letting her out to roam and explore. Cats are often deemed independent, but, in fact, they like to be with their favorite people. Also, surround your cat with her familiar toys and bedding to help her settle in to her new home.

Landlord Restrictions

There are many rentals that do not allow pets. It's never a good idea to try to hide your cat from the landlord because you may find yourself in a situation where you are forced to re-home on very short notice. It's better to be upfront and offer to pay a larger pet deposit. Alternatively, there are now pet-friendly rental agencies, and by working with one, you know that your pet will be welcome.

The Cost

Often people who respond to advertisements that say “free to a good home” acquire their cat without seriously understanding the financial implications of pet parenting. Illness, unexpected expenses, or the loss of a job may change the financial position of the household. If you are in dire straits, there are organizations that will help you pay for food and veterinary care on a short-term basis until your situation improves.

Health Issues

Pets can develop serious health issues and necessary medications, treatments or surgeries can cost a lot of money that cannot be absorbed by the family budget. In such cases, re-homing is a better option than euthanizing your cat. There are also organizations that will help you pay for expensive surgeries, so research your options. Finally, it's a good idea to consider getting pet insurance as soon as you get your new pet to avoid such a dilemma.

No Homes for Litter Mates

Adopting a cat from a shelter will mean that the cat will have been spayed or neutered before being entrusted into your care. However, when cats have been acquired from family members, friends or acquaintances, this may not be the case. This can lead to the cat having several litters of kittens. Often there simply is no room in the home or the finances to see to the needs of additional felines in the household. Spaying and neutering household pets can eradicate this problem and generally help curb pet overpopulation. In addition, when pets in the household don't get along with one another a decision is often made to keep one and re-home the other. Behaviorists often suggest keeping cats in separate areas of the home so that both pets can co-exist peacefully. They can also provide valuable tips on proper introduction and socialization techniques which can help you break down the barrier within your home.

Lifestyle Changes or Allergies

There are a variety of lifestyle changes that result in a cat being re-homed, such as divorce, the death of a spouse or the loss of a job. Another typical scenario is when a cat parent gets married or moves in with someone who is highly allergic to cat hair or dander. Both children and adults can suddenly develop allergies to the family cat as well. Sometimes antihistamine medication taken short-term can help to resolve this issue.

Many of the cats you find in shelters today are there because their families had to relinquish them for many of these reasons. If you can spare re-homing a pet, you're helping a pet that's already at the shelter find her forever home.